Curr Biol, Nov 2016

Intraspinal Sensory Neurons Provide Powerful Inhibition to Motor Circuits Ensuring Postural Control during Locomotion

Hubbard JM, Böhm UL, Prendergast A, Tseng PB, Newman M, Stokes C, Wyart C


In the vertebrate spinal cord, cerebrospinal fluid-contacting neurons (CSF-cNs) are GABAergic neurons whose functions are only beginning to unfold. Recent evidence indicates that CSF-cNs detect local spinal bending and relay this mechanosensory feedback information to motor circuits, yet many CSF-cN targets remain unknown. Using optogenetics, patterned illumination, and in vivo electrophysiology, we show here that CSF-cNs providesomatic inhibition to fast motor neurons and excitatory sensory interneurons involved in the escape circuit. Ventral CSF-cNs respond to longitudinal spinal contractions and induce large inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) sufficient to silence spiking of their targets. Upon repetitive stimulation, these IPSCs promptly depress, enabling the mechanosensory response to the first bend to be the most effective. When CSF-cNs are silenced, postural control is compromised, resulting in rollovers during escapes. Altogether, our data demonstrate how GABAergic sensory neurons provide powerful inhibitory feedback to the escape circuit to maintain balance during active locomotion.


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